Definition: "An ergogenic aid is any substance or phenomenon that enhances performance "

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Sports drink with carbs, BCAAs and arginine boosts post-training recovery

If you take BCAAs just before or during your training session, they reduce muscle damage and boost the anabolic stimulus of your training. Ok, we all knew this already. But researchers at the National Taiwan Sport University published a study in the Chinese Journal of Physiology that suggests that endurance athletes recover faster if they take a mix of carbohydrates, BCAAs, and L-arginine after a training session.

Sports drink with BCAAs and arginine boosts post-training recovery
The Taiwanese got 14 male students to run twice to the point of exhaustion on a treadmill. First they ran for 5 minutes at 55 percent of their maximal oxygen uptake, and then for 30 minutes at 75 percent, and after that the intensity increased by one percent every minute until the students couldn't take any more. The students had not had breakfast.

After the session the subjects were given 200 ml sports drink. On one occasion the drink contained nothing apart from carbohydrates and flavourings. [PL] On the other occasion the students drank a product made by Otsuka Pharmaceutical, Amino Value. The composition of the drink is shown below.

Sports drink with BCAAs and arginine boosts post-training recovery

Before, during and after the exertion the researchers examined their subjects. The table below shows that the combination of BCAAs, sugars and L-arginine led to a rise in glucose and insulin levels, and to a higher testosterone:cortisol ratio. The higher the ratio, the more powerful the anabolic processes in the body.

Sports drink with BCAAs and arginine boosts post-training recovery

The Taiwanese think that the raised insulin level in combination with more testosterone/less cortisol leads to a quicker recovery of athletes' muscles.

It's a pity the researchers didn't look at the effects of a good breakfast containing enough protein and whole grains. Would the sports drink have the same effect after a good breakfast? And what would happen if you left out the sugars, and just took the BCAAs and arginine? Would that also stimulate the anabolic processes? The study doesn't answer these questions.

Chin J Physiol. 2011 Apr 30;54(2):71-8.

Small amount of BCAAs and L-arginine prevents cardio-induced muscle breakdown 04.03.2011